Flikker: Saving DRAM Refresh-Power Through Critical Data Partitioning

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Executive Summary

Energy has become a first-class design constraint in computer systems. Memory is a significant contributor to total system power. This paper introduces Flikker, an application-level technique to reduce refresh power in DRAM memories. Flikker enables developers to specify critical and non-critical data in programs and the run-time system allocates this data in separate parts of memory. The portion of memory containing critical data is refreshed at the regular refresh-rate, while the portion containing non-critical data is refreshed at substantially lower rates. This partitioning saves energy at the cost of a modest increase in data corruption in the non-critical data. Flikker thus exposes and leverages an interesting trade-off between energy consumption and hardware correctness.

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